Open Data exists for a purpose. From point of capture, to publication and analysis, data seek to be used to make better decisions. By making the data open, more people can participate in that analysis and decision making process. Particular to government and community, the more people can understand, collaborate and reach consensus, the better the likely outcome.
To support this goal of open data a few of us are starting a new group in DC that will focus on very specific initiatives and issues related to our city and use data and analysis to gain insight and hopefully provide effective solutions. Each month we will choose a particular issue and dive deep into that issue to understand the current state, historical precedence, objectives, policies and start a data-driven dialogue. To guide our explorations, a government representative will introduce the topic, share current work and plans, and be available to answer questions from the group during and after the gathering.
Our first meeting is this Thursday, October 30 and we are focusing on DC’s VisionZero plan to reduce pedestrian and cyclist fatalities to none by 2017. Jonathan Rogers from DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) will be our government and data expert. In preparation for this meeting, DC OCTO has made available a number of open datasets such as the last 8 years of bicycle crashes, bike lanes, bike routes, and crowd-sourced locations of unsafe cycle conditions around the city. You can find the list and contributions in our github repository
If you are interested in data as a hobby or profession, want to apply your analysis skills to data science the heck of this data to help your fellow citizens, please join us! After this initial meeting we plan to migrate through the city, hosting events in each Ward at the local library so that we can make this collaboration inclusive to all citizens and focus on local community issues.
And if you live in another city or town, I encourage you to start something similar focusing on local issues. Ideally, working at the convergence of government, analysts, technologists, and citizens means we can give open data the purpose it wants to achieve.